Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

In this article, we’ll cover how much flannel can shrink, why it shrinks, and what causes it to do so.

You recently purchased a flannel shirt that you adore, and now you’re wondering if flannel shrinks. Flannel is renowned for its softness, warmth, and overall comfort. It can be made from cotton, wool, or synthetic fiber. It’s critical that you understand how to maintain its original size indefinitely.

When exposed to heat, flannel contracts. This kind of fabric will get smaller in size if it is washed in hot water. Additionally, flannel fabrics shrink if you dry them too quickly or in a hot setting. When the fabric is of poor quality, it can also shrink.

The following information will help you maintain the best possible appearance and feel for the flannel without having it shrink.

Does Flannel Shrink?

When you wash flannel in hot water, it shrinks. Hot water is defined as water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set your washer to cool water when washing your favorite flannel pajamas, your boyfriend’s shirt, or a blanket because this popular fall fabric needs your tender, loving care. Warm water or a low heat setting is also acceptable.

Does Flannel Shrink When Washed?

Yes, when you wash your flannel—whether it’s woolen or worsted—it will shrink, but only if you use hot water. Your flannel won’t shrink if it’s washed in cold water, or at the very least, water that’s been heated gently. Expect your flannel to shrink two to three sizes when washing in hot water.

That represents about 20% of the size of your fabric. To account for this, it is suggested that you buy flannel that is a quarter to a half size larger than you actually need. Choose the safer size—one or two sizes larger—when purchasing a flannel shirt.

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

Up to 3% of pre-washed flannel can shrink. The trick in this case is to never wash your flannel in hot water. It won’t shrink noticeably with each wash if you give it a proper wash and dry it routinely.

However, because the fibers are drawn together after being stretched by use, flannel can shrink a little bit each time it is washed. The fabric may shrink when natural fibers and water interact.

Does Flannel Shrink in the Dryer?

Your flannel sheets, pajamas, or plaid flannel shirt will shrink in the dryer, especially if the dryer is set to a high heat setting or the tumbling action is vigorous. For flannel clothing and bedding, gentle tumble drying on low heat is frequently preferable.

Related: How to Tell If Fabric is Flannel?

How Much Does Flannel Shrink?

Flannel fabric can shrink by about 20% when washed in hot water. That represents both a significant size change and a financial waste. As a result, be sure to treat heat shrinkage seriously.

Consequently, will the flannel still shrink if you don’t wash it in hot water? If not properly cared for, flannel can naturally shrink up to 3 or 4 percent, which could mean shrinkage of an inch or more.

The notion of fabric shrinkage is widespread in the clothing industry. There are various kinds of fabrics and each reacts to washing in a different way. The manufacturer should have their fabrics tested before releasing them into the market. Below are the most common questions about shrinking clothes:

Why Does Flannel Shrink?

The majority of flannels are made of wool. Wool is a type of textile fiber made from the hair of sheep and goats, among other animals. Microscopic scales cover the exterior of these animal hairs. These scales mesh and shrink when heated, stiffening and shortening the wool as a result.

There are additional causes for flannel shrinkage besides heat exposure. Undoubtedly, tumbling causes this fabric to shrink. Let’s list them out!

Tumbling Action

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

Some contemporary flannels are made entirely of cotton. Despite what some people claim, cotton shrinks when heated. That is a complete myth. When cotton tumbles in the washer or dryer, it contracts.

When washing your flannel in cold water (whether it’s made up of wool, cotton, or synthetics), it is important that you set your washer to a “gentle cycle”. Flannel can shrink, fray, or pill when agitated vigorously.

Yes, flannel can become distressed and shrink in size when subjected to abrasive washing. Be gentle with your flannel. Wash your favorite cozy material by hand if you don’t trust your washing machine.

Low-quality Flannel

There are low-quality flannels just as there are good-quality ones. Over time, your inexpensive flannel may shrink. When looking for one of the coziest and most breathable fabrics on Earth, it’s critical to know what to look for.

Examine the weave first. You can test it by giving it a little tug; if it slightly warps, you know it’s the low-quality variety. High-quality flannel has a slight weight to it, is full and thick, and is naturally fluffy. See if it’s fuzzy by rubbing it against your cheek. The genuine flannel does not lay flat.

Bad Chemicals

The wrong detergent can ruin your flannel and reduce its size. Washing with detergents you chose at random is not advised. Your winter flannels are vulnerable to the phosphates, enzymes, and chlorine in your laundry soap.

You should avoid using fabric softener on your flannels. Chemicals in your scented fabric softener form an imperceptible layer over the fabric that suffocates the fibers. The fibers can no longer maintain the fabric’s shape because they are unable to breathe due to the barrier-forming chemicals in the softener.

Drying Them Hot

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

You wouldn’t want to take out your flannel shirt from the dryer to discover that it has shrunk to a size that would only fit someone half your size. Your flannel will magically shrink by 2 to 3 sizes when you tumble dry this material on high heat.

Thus, damaging your flannel involves more than just washing it in hot water; it also involves drying it in a hot environment.

Steps to Wash Flannel Without Shrinking It

Step 1: Use Warm and Not Hot Water

Cool or warm water should be added to the washing machine. Flannel should never be washed in hot water. Your flannel needs to be protected because it can become damaged from too much heat.

Step 2: Use Mild Detergent

Use mild soap or detergent. Check the ingredients on the back of the product to make sure you are using mild soap or detergent. It is mild if the only ingredient listed is surfactants. This component can also be found in the soap for washing your hands. It works to dissolve grime and get rid of grease.

You should stay away from ingredients like enzymes, phosphates, and chlorine. If these substances are listed on the label, the detergent is likely to be powerful. Your flannel can be ruined by powerful detergents.

Step 3: Use Fabric Softener

While fabric softener is an option, white vinegar works best. Flannel doesn’t pill when treated with vinegar, which also keeps it soft. Pour only one-half cup of vinegar into your load of laundry.

Step 4: Wash Using a Gentle Cycle

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

Select the gentle cycle option on your washing machine’s settings. Your flannel may shrink if you wash it on a moderate or hard cycle. Fraying may result from it as well.

Step 5: Hang Dry

Your flannel clothing or fabrics should be dried hanging up. Dry the flannel on the fluff or low heat setting for a few minutes to soften it if it feels stiff after drying. Flannel fabrics can be tumble-dried at low heat, but the prolonged tumbling and low heat can still result in shrinkage. Hang your blankets to prevent shrinking.

How to Prevent Flannel from Shrinking?

Simply adhere to these guidelines to save yourself the trouble of having your soft and cuddly flannel shrink and then having to go through the process of unshrinking it.

Check Your Flannels Care Guide

All you need to do to stay safe is find your care manual and read the directions. To help you properly care for your flannel, care guides have been developed. Care instructions can be found on the label, a side seam care tag, or a detachable tag.

The best advice on how to stop your flannel from shrinking must still be learned because not all care guides are comprehensive.

White Vinegar is An Excellent Alternative to Fabric Softener

The harsh chemicals in fabric softeners—as was already mentioned—can cause your flannel to shrink. As an alternative, get a jug of vinegar from your kitchen. An excellent substitute for fabric softener is vinegar.

You can avoid a bothersome issue like pilling by washing your favorite fabric with a half cup of vinegar. With vinegar, you won’t have to be concerned about the surface of your flannel becoming pilled.

Don’t Use Undiluted Bleach

When they say “undiluted,” it means pure or concentrated. If you wash your flannel with undiluted bleach, you might as well tear it to pieces. Your flannel’s fibers will be harmed if you pour bleach that is not mixed with water.

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

The fibers will become weaker, the pattern on your flannel will become discolored, and it might even eat holes through the fabric. Additionally, the colors of your flannel may completely fade.

Iron on the Reverse Side

A step-by-step tutorial for ironing flannel is provided here. Flannel shirts look fantastic when straight and crisp, so you really should iron your flannel. Wearing something straight off the dryer or clothesline is not advised.

  1. Plug the iron
  2. Warm up the iron
  3. Select the setting: wool or cotton or synthetic
  4. Set the flannel (reverse side up) on the ironing board
  5. Spray a little moisture on the flannel
  6. Iron until wrinkles disappear

When it comes to ironing flannel, it is challenging. The kind of flannel you have must be known. Is it made of synthetic, wool, or cotton flannel?

There are artificial fabrics that can’t be ironed. You can actually find it in the label or care instructions. This is due to the coatings that some synthetic flannels have undergone. It shouldn’t be ironed if this is the case.

If your flannel can be ironed, your care instructions should say so. The iron’s temperature should also be mentioned. Wool and cotton flannel settings are available.

How to Shrink Flannel?

You can shrink flannel shirts in two ways that work well.

  1. Soaking in hot water
  2. Using washing machine

Here’s the simplest way to shrink your favorite flannel shirt.

Does Flannel Fabric Shrink? How Much Does It Shrink?

Soaking in Hot Water

  • Step 1: Read the Instruction

Ensure that the fabric of your flannel shirt is cotton or wool. Otherwise, shrinking won’t be very useful in this situation. Because it is very difficult to shrink synthetic fibers and the process is very complicated.

Additionally, confirm that the shirt can be washed in accordance with the directions printed on it. The label will indicate if your shirt has been pre-washed. You’ll therefore be forced to take your shirt to a reputable tailor in that situation.

  • Step 2: Boil Water With Vinegar

Take a big pot and fill it with water right now. Add one cup of vinegar to it. The vinegar will stop the color loss of your shirt caused by heat when you boil it.

  • Step 3: Soak the Shirt

Take your pot off the stove when the water begins to boil, then immerse your shirt in it. You can use a wooden spoon to stir the shirt around in the hot water. Continue soaking the shirt for five minutes.

  • Step 4: Drying

You can then empty the water into the sink after removing your shirt from the hot water. Take your shirt to the dryer once it is cool enough to touch. and let it air dry there for roughly an hour. Verify that the dryer is set to the medium setting.

Your shirt should shrink by up to 20% as a result. If, however, the shrinking does not satisfy your expectations, repeat the process. The flannel shirt should continue to shrink as a result.

Using Washing Machine

  • Step 1: Wash the Shirt With Vinegar

Use a cup of vinegar to prevent shrinking while washing your shirt in the washing machine. In order to lose less color, vinegar will help you as we previously mentioned. Washing them separately is recommended if you have multiple shirts that need to shrink. Otherwise, your washed shirts might end up looking discolored.

  • Step 2: Use the Hottest Setting in Your Washing Machine

The shirt must be thoroughly agitated while being washed to prevent shrinking. If not, it’ll be obvious that the shrinking isn’t uniform. Use the heavy wash cycle if it’s available to ensure proper agitation. For the wash, use your machine’s hottest setting as well.

  • Step 3: Drying

In this situation, drying is crucial. Therefore, if you make a mistake, the result may not be as expected. When the washing cycle is complete, take the shirt out of the machine right away and dry it in your dryer in a medium setting.

You can repeat the process if the shirt does not shrink as much as you would like.

Final Thoughts: Does Flannel Fabric Shrink?

Particularly in areas with a colder climate, flannel is a popular household fabric. It offers the desired toasty feeling in a soft, comfortable way. The fabric is prone to shrinking, though, so it’s crucial to handle, wash, dry, and iron it properly.

If you adore your flannel—and who doesn’t?–it’s smart to have a few extras on hand so that you don’t have to repeatedly wash and dry the same items frequently.


Should I Size Up a Flannel?

Your flannel shirt should fit you like a dress shirt, with long sleeves and barrel cuffs that aren’t too long or short. Flannel shirts shouldn’t fit tight, but shouldn’t be too roomy either, as you want to look elegantly relaxed while wearing one.

Does Flannel Shrink Every Time You Wash It?

The only reason flannel may shrink is if you wash it in hot water and dry it on a high heat setting. In other words, avoid being exposed to too much heat at all costs. This will preserve the quality of your soft flannel pajamas and keep them from fading or losing their shape.

Does Flannel Shrink Or Stretch?

The first thing you need to be aware of is that flannel sometimes has a loose weave. The looser the weave, the more it tends to stretch when sewing and shrink upon washing over time. Pre-washing the fabric is crucial because, if it is going to shrink, you want it to do so before the fabric is put together, not after.

Do Cotton Flannel Shirts Shrink?

If Cotton Flannel is not properly cared for, it can shrink, that much is true. Many errors result in shrinkage, including washing them in hot water or putting them in the dryer. Washing it in cold water and line drying it is the best way to stop it from shrinking. It will then still fit perfectly even if it slightly shrinks.

How Much Will a 100 Cotton Flannel Shirt Shrink?

In fact, it can shrink up to 5%, which is approximately more than one size. Always read all labels and make sure to follow the washing and drying directions.

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